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We’ll be calculating the damage to the economy caused by the pandemic for a long time to come, but here’s a positive sign of both financial resilience and generosity. At the online-giving portal CanadaHelps.org, charitable donations are up a ton.

“We first saw a really big dip in the first few days [of the pandemic],” said Marina Glogovac, CEO at CanadaHelps. “And then we saw an unprecedented, breathtaking rally in Canadians supporting charities.”

The number of donors in March was up 62 per cent over the same month last year, while the number of donations was up 65 per cent and overall donation dollars surged 92 per cent. There was also a 58-per-cent increase in people committing to monthly donation plans, which are a big win for charities because they help smooth the donation flow over the course of a year.

The charitable sector has been hurt in the pandemic through of the cancellation of spring fundraising events. Ms. Glogovac said the jump in donations to CanadaHelps may in part be accounted for by people re-directing money they planned to donate elsewhere.

Regardless, the increase is an encouraging sign that money is flowing to organizations that are helping fight the pandemic. CanadaHelps, a non-profit organization, has set up a COVID-19 community-care fund that will help food banks and charities working with isolated seniors, the homeless and more. There’s also a health care and hospital fund. The insurance company Gore Mutual has offered $2-million in one-to-one matching funds for donations to the community-care and health-care funds.

If donating to registered charities isn’t your thing, check out the list of 27 ways the financially fortunate can help out in the pandemic.

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Rob’s personal finance reading list…

Better to be too early with stocks than miss out on a rally

A very important take from a U.S. money manager on worrying too much about when to buy beaten-down stocks: “I would rather be kicking myself in the short-run for jumping in too early than kicking myself in the long-run for never putting my money to work in the first place.”

What’s new with credit-card interest rates

The big banks are offering limited interest-rate relief for clients experiencing financial hardship as a result of the pandemic. Most credit-card issuers offer low-rate card options, though the rates aren’t actually that low – 12 to 13 per cent in some cases. Here are a few lists of low-rate card options:

Post-secondary students need help

It’s unlikely many students will qualify for the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), and youth unemployment this summer is projected to be in the 50-per-cent range. The answer may be improving federal and provincial student aid and grants.

Help for keeping your finances on track

The non-profit credit counselling agency Credit Canada has produced a COVID-19 resource centre to help people manage their money through the pandemic. There’s a section on what to do if you’re laid off, how to get credit-counselling help plus a debt calculator and budget planner. Here’s a listing of cities across Canada offering property-tax deferrals.

Ask Rob

Q: I am a 63-year-old woman who has never made an investment. What would you suggest I start with?

A: I suggest you start with a discussion with a financial planner to see if you should be staying safe with your money or if you can afford to take some stock-market risk. There’s a lot of uncertainty ahead, and you want to be extra careful to ensure you have the funds you need both now and in the future. Here’s a list of planners who will consult for a flat or hourly fee and don’t sell investments.

Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Sorry I can’t answer every one personally. Questions and answers are edited for length and clarity.

Today’s financial tool

RateSpy.com has been publishing daily coronavirus updates on mortgage rates. Keep an eye if you’re waiting for rates to fall to a point where it could make sense to break your mortgage.

What I’ve been writing about

  • Six personal-finance ideas that have been blown to pieces by the pandemic
  • Pandemic personal finance update #2: Bank deposits are something you do NOT need to worry about
  • The 2020 ETF Buyer’s Guide: Balanced ETFs (and how to calm down about our portfolios) for Globe Unlimited subscribers)

Has the coronavirus derailed your financial plan? Are you worried?

Get some FREE advice from The Globe and Mail about your unique financial situation by emailing finfacelift@gmail.com to be part of our Financial Facelift series. You can share your story under a false name and our photographers will obscure your identity in one of our trademark Financial Facelift photos. We’re especially keen to hear from the struggling, the self-employed, artists, freelancers, contract workers and small business owners.

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